Anyway, welcome to the 2017 Handcuff Report. For those who followed this post last season, welcome back. For those who are new, where were you last year? Too good for us? I have researched other available handcuff reports and tell give you my completely unbiased opinion that none of them are half as good as this one. Shame on you, and welcome.
So, first things first: what exactly is a handcuff? For the fantasy football n00bs out there, or perhaps for those who have taken the last few years off, a handcuff is a backup who will likely take over as the starter in the event of an injury, extreme ineffectiveness, off-the-field trouble, or coach’s decision. There are probably other reasons that I am forgetting here, but those are the most common one.
Most NFL teams now run a running back by committee of some sort. While not every team is as unpredictably maddening as the Patriots, most teams share the load in an effort to keep guys fresh and give defenses different looks. With fantasy leagues more competitive than ever, thanks to sites like Razzball offering great advice, it is important to recognize trends and identify value quickly. If you drafted a stud running back early, you might want to grab his handcuff in case of injury. Or if you went zero RB or went really light on RB early, you might want to squat on a couple handcuffs or, especially in PPR leagues, grab a change-of-pace/pass catching back. With the influx of young running backs and each team having two or three options this season, I tended to do the latter in drafts this year. For every Melvin Gordon, I have like two Shane Vereens or Theo Riddicks this year. Speaking of young running backs:
Notable rookie RB touches from week 1
Fournette – 29
McCaffrey – 18
Cook – 25
Mixon – 11
Hunt – 22
Kamara – 11
Cohen – 13
Mack – 11
— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) September 12, 2017
When you look at the waiver wire adds, the top three in most leagues are probably going to be some combination of Tarik Cohen, Kerwynn Williams, and Javorius Allen. The former went bonkers on Sunday and could be especially valuable as both a handcuff and a weapon in PPR formats, while the latter two are intriguing as the result of injuries. For a longer breakdown of waiver wire adds, check out Kerry’s post from yesterday.
Despite only being one week into the football season, we already have some handcuffs making waves. So, let’s get to the charts and the notes…
Mike Maher’s Week Two Handcuff Report
- Danny Woodhead going down was one of the notable injuries of the weekend, and the surprising stat line after the game was Javorius Allen receiving 21 carries. While Terrance West got his, as well, and was fairly productive with his 19 carries, the 21 for Allen raised some eyebrows and is making him a popular waiver wire target with Woodhead expected to miss some time. Since this is probably more of a short term handcuff opportunity for Allen, and he is still going to more than likely be second fiddle to West, I’m not using my waiver priority on him unless I am desperate.
- In the AFC East, we have two teams with bellcow running backs and two teams that will probably frustrate all year. In New England, they are down to three receivers and something like 16 running backs. If history holds true, the value of those running backs is going to change every single week and possibly every single half or quarter. In New Jersey, the Jets insist on running Matt Forte out there even though Bilal Powell has looked like the better back for two years now. Maybe that is just two years of Powell stock speaking, but come on already.
- Marshawn Lynch returned and looked like Marshawn Lynch.
- I was high on Kareem Hunt heading into the NFL Draft and wanted my Eagles to grab him. But, after calling this NFL Draft a historic one for running backs, GM Howie Roseman walked away with a fifth round mini-Sproles who almost didn’t make the team and might not dress this season. Hunt, on the other hand, looked phenomenal Week 1. I grabbed a bunch of Spencer Ware stock later in drafts as kind of a counter move to the Hunt hype, hoping that Ware would keep the job or at least maintain his share of touches. Obviously, I got burned, and now Hunt looks to be a stud. And without much competition in the backfield anymore — aside from Andy Reid throwing Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill back there from time to time — Hunt might be a workhorse this year.
- Frank Gore might play until he dies on the field, but Marlon Mack, a guy I have a ton of stock of in dynasty leagues, looked pretty impressive in his debut. If you have the roster space and Mack is still available, he isn’t a bad back to sit on in leagues.
- Tarik Cohen really stole the show on Sunday, with
- With the devastating David Johnson news, Kerwynn Williams is the next man up. While he won’t be David Johnson, he should get his fair share of touches and his chance to shine. If he can, he could be a serviceable running back for your rotation. If you are a Johnson owner, you almost have to take the chance on him if you can. And if you aren’t, it can’t hurt to grab him and see what he can do. The Cardinals resigned Chris Johnson yesterday, but that feels like more depth than anything else. If they really liked Johnson and thought he had a lot left in the tank, he would have already been on the roster.
- Chris Carson looked pretty good in limited chances on Sunday, but with Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise already there, Thomas Rawls coming back for Week 2, and a very questionable offensive line blocking for him, ehhhhhhhhh.
- One of the more interesting teams to watch running backs for, for me at least, was the Panthers. Jonathan Stewart went late in many fantasy drafts and undrafted in some others, as fantasy owners prepare for the arrival of Christian McCaffrey. I like McCaffrey as much as the next guy, but I didn’t expect Stewart to just disappear from the offense, so I grabbed some Stewart stock late. After one week, I like that pick. While I expect McCaffrey to lead the way and be the more valuable running back, especially in PPR, I think Stewart is going to get his, too.
- Things look pretty awkward in New Orleans, eh? Who would have thought that adding a veteran superstar (former superstar?) running back who isn’t a pass catcher to a pass-happy offense with a crowded backfield would be a bad idea? It isn’t as easy to trade in-season in the NFL as it is in other sports, but would anyone be surprised if Peterson ended up being dealt soon? It’s only one week, and it was against a very good defense, so maybe things are getting blown out of proportion, but it looks not so good in New Orleans.
If you want to talk fantasy football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!